The only certainty is that nothing is certain. - Pliny the Elder
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 48, Part I, 10 March 1997

This is Part I of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily Digest.
Part I is a compilation of news concerning Russia, Transcaucasia and
Central Asia. Part II, covering Central, Eastern, and Southeastern
Europe is distributed simultaneously as a second document. Back issues
of the OMRI Daily Digest, and other information about OMRI, are
available through OMRI's WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/Index.html

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
In the 7 March issue of OMRI's journal, TRANSITION**:

BALKAN UNREST
- Pyramid Schemes Leave Albania on Shaky Ground
- Back to the Basics in Bulgaria
- Protests in Serbia Raise Hopes of Reconciliation in Kosovo
- In Post-Dayton Balkans, Change Comes Where It's Least Expected
PLUS...
- RUSSIA: Chernomyrdin: A Prime Minister Without Politics
- VIEWPOINT: Azerbaijan: Democracy in a State of Emergency

        and "Reviving the Black Sea"

For subscription information about OMRI's new monthly, send an e-mail
message to transition-DD@omri.cz

**See important message below on the upcoming changes to TRANSITION
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

RUSSIA

CHUBAIS RETURNS TO GOVERNMENT. President Boris Yeltsin appointed
Anatolii Chubais, his chief of staff, to serve as first deputy prime
minister on 7 March. Chubais is charged with revamping the chaotic and
ineffective governmental structure. Chubais had held the same post until
January 1996, when he was dismissed for failing to deal with wage and
pension arrears, which were thought to have contributed to the poor
showing of the pro-government Our Home is Russia party in the December
1995 election. There is no word on who will replace Chubais as chief of
staff. The announcement of Chubais' appointment was delayed until late 7
March, presumably to prevent negative reactions to his appointment from
interfering with the generally positive media coverage of Yeltsin's
state of the nation address the previous day. Another advantage of the
delay was that no newspapers would be published for the next three days,
since 8 March was International Women's Day. -- Peter Rutland

REACTION TO CHUBAIS APPOINTMENT. State Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev
described the appointment of Chubais as a mistake and a challenge to all
of Russia, Russian media reported on 7 March. Communist Party leader
Gennadii Zyuganov and Communist Party Deputy Chairman Valentin Kuptsov
used stronger words, comparing the appointment to "spitting in the face
of society;" Zyuganov claimed that Chubais was almost as hated in Russia
as Hitler, RTR reported. Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader
Vladimir Zhirinovsky said a narrow clique of politicians was being
reshuffled "like a greasy old pack of cards," according to AFP. In
contrast, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, who crossed swords with Chubais
for years over privatization policy, expressed the hope that Chubais's
"decisiveness" would improve the government's work. U.S. State
Department Spokesman Nicholas Burns said: "We look forward to working
with" Chubais, whom he called a "talented, tough advocate of Russia's
national interests." -- Laura Belin

YABLOKO SAYS NO. Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii announced on 7 March
that Yabloko members will not join the new cabinet as government
officials had indicated during negotiations that there will be no
significant changes in economic policy, Russian media reported.
Appearing on NTV on 9 March, Yavlinskii confirmed that his associates
would refuse to serve as mere "decoration" in the cabinet and argued
that neither Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin nor Chubais should serve
in the government, given the state's persistent inability to pay its
debts to citizens and the high level of corruption. Yavlinskii skirted
the issue of whether Yabloko deputies in the State Duma would support a
no-confidence vote in the new government. Also on 9 March, Russia's
Democratic Choice leader Yegor Gaidar, a close ally of Chubais, denied
rumors that he will take a cabinet post. -- Laura Belin

CONFUSION OVER CHECHEN PEACE TREATY, AMNESTY. Russia's NTV on 7 March
quoted Chechen National Security Advisor Akhmed Zakaev as stating that
the signing of the Russian-Chechen peace agreement may be postponed as
Russian Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin has sent to Grozny a
substantially amended version of the text, which the Chechen leadership
considers unacceptable. Also on 7 March, Russian State Duma Chairman
Gennadii Seleznev stipulated that the amnesty for Chechen fighters would
take effect only after a final vote by the Duma on 12 March, Reuters
reported. On 9 March, one person was slightly injured when a bomb
exploded outside the Grozny headquarters of Chechen Field Commander
Shamil Basaev, according to AFP. -- Liz Fuller

INGUSH VICE-PRESIDENT OFFERS TO ACCOMMODATE JOURNALISTS. Boris Agapov
told ITAR-TASS on 7 March that his republic is prepared to offer
accommodation near the capital, Nazran, to journalists covering the
situation in Chechnya should the Chechen authorities insist on their
departure for security reasons. On 8 March, Chechen First Deputy Prime
Minister Movladi Udugov told Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitalii
Ignatenko that four Russian journalists abducted in Grozny on 4 March
are still alive, and that President Aslan Maskhadov has ordered that
efforts to locate them and secure their release be stepped up. A senior
Chechen Interior Ministry official warned the Russian media against
publishing unverified reports about the abduction that could jeopardize
their release. -- Liz Fuller

CADET SHOOTS COMRADES, COMMANDER. Sergei Lepnev, 18, a first-year cadet
at the Kamyshin Military Construction Academy in Volgograd Oblast, shot
dead the 32-year-old captain of his guard detachment and five other
cadets on 9 March, Russian media reported. The incident, in which three
other cadets were also wounded, occurred during a routine changing of
the guard at the academy. Lepnev fled the scene with another cadet, but
was later tracked by police to a local home, where officers convinced
him to surrender. The motive for the shootings remains unclear, although
military investigators cited by NTV suggested that it could have
resulted from severe hazing, a chronic problem for young recruits in the
Russian military. -- Scott Parrish

YELTSIN, LUKASHENKA SIGN JOINT DECLARATION. President Boris Yeltsin and
his Belarusian counterpart Alyaksandr Lukashenka signed a joint
declaration "covering the entire sphere of bilateral relations," ITAR-
TASS reported on 7 March. Opening the meeting, Yeltsin told Lukashenka
that Russia and Belarus have the "closest relations," adding that ties
should be further improved in order to "achieve a level of integration
that exceeds integration in Europe and other parts of the world."
Echoing the largely unimplemented April 1996 Russo-Belarusian community
agreement, the declaration called for establishing a common legal system
and currency, in addition to unifying budgetary and other economic
policies. Despite such sweeping declarations, economic unification has
made little concrete progress with Russia tightening customs controls on
the Belarusian border only last week because of widespread smuggling.
The two presidents also declared "unanimous" opposition to NATO
enlargement, while denying that Russo-Belarusian integration is directed
against the West. -- Scott Parrish

PRIMAKOV, SOLANA DISCUSS NATO-RUSSIA CHARTER. Russian Foreign Minister
Yevgenii Primakov and NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana met in Moscow
on 9 March for a third round of talks about the proposed NATO-Russia
charter, Russian and Western agencies reported. Like the previous
meetings, no details were released to the press, which received only
tersely worded statements from NATO headquarters in Brussels and the
Russian Foreign Ministry. The NATO statement said the talks were
"proceeding positively," and the Russian statement also said that
"positive work was done" during Solana's visit, although it noted that
"differences remain on a number of issues." On 10 March, Solana departed
Moscow for a tour of Central Asia. A similar tour of Armenia,
Azerbaijan, and Georgia last month sparked accusations by Moscow
politicians and commentators that NATO seeks to undermine Russian
influence in the CIS. -- Scott Parrish

CANCELED VISIT SPARKS DIPLOMATIC SPAT WITH TOKYO. The Japanese Foreign
Ministry has demanded that Moscow explain why Russian First Deputy Prime
Minister Viktor Ilyushin abruptly canceled a scheduled late February
visit to Tokyo, citing pressing domestic issues, but then went to
Switzerland a few days later to press St. Petersburg's bid to host the
2004 Summer Olympics, Reuters reported on 6 March. "We deserve a
satisfactory explanation from the Russian government," said Japanese
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hiroshi Hashimoto, who complained that a
discussion with Russian Ambassador to Japan Aleksandr Panov had not
produced one. Ilyushin's visit to Switzerland was also disappointing, as
the International Olympic Committee announced on 7 March that St.
Petersburg had been eliminated from the competition to host the 2004
games. -- Scott Parrish

POLITICIANS MARK WOMEN'S DAY. Marking International Women's Day on 8
March with an address on Radio Rossii, Yeltsin said Russia's greatest
treasure was its "beautiful, kind and intelligent women." He praised
women's wisdom and resourcefulness, noting that "in order to solve
family budget problems, sometimes you have to think even harder than our
[parliamentary] deputies or government, because unlike them, you have to
fulfill your budget." Meanwhile, about 700 representatives of Viktor
Anpilov's radical left-wing movement Workers' Russia demonstrated on
Moscow's October Square on 8 March, NTV reported. "With the restoration
of Soviet power all of women's rights will be restored to them," Anpilov
pledged. -- Laura Belin

TEENAGE CRIME. Teenage crime has been rising faster than adult crime and
now accounts for 68% of all recorded crimes in Moscow oblast, Trud
reported on 6 March. The article said there were 120,000 cases of
children under 14 (the age of criminal responsibility) committing
criminal acts, such as stealing food, sometimes at the instigation of
their families. Half the teenagers who commit crimes neither work nor
attend school, but spend their days begging, cleaning cars, etc. In
sharp contrast to the Soviet era, 1.5 million school-age children
neither study nor (officially) work. -- Peter Rutland

DUMA APPROVES INDEXATION OF PENSIONS, PROTEST ACTION. Despite the
government's strong objections, the State Duma approved in the first
reading a draft law to increase the minimum pension by 13% to 78,620
rubles ($14) effective from 1 March 1997, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 March.
According to the Duma's committee on labor and social policy, financing
the increase will require an additional 10.5 trillion rubles this year.
The head of the Pension Fund Vasilii Barchuk and Deputy Finance Minister
Izosim Molchanov blasted the decision and warned that the indexation is
likely to bring to naught the government's efforts to repay pension
arrears by 1 July 1997. The Duma also decided by 285 votes to 11 with
four abstentions to support the large scale protests scheduled by trade
unions for 27 March. -- Natalia Gurushina

MORE TROUBLE IN SPACE. The Russian-American crew aboard the Mir orbital
space station was forced to use emergency equipment after the failure of
the main oxygen generator on 7 March, AFP reported. This is the latest
in a series of accidents aboard the Mir station, including problems with
the waste water system in November, a fire in February, and the recent
failure to re-dock a supply spacecraft using a new docking system. The
chief of the flight, Vladimir Solovev, however, said that the problem
with the cargo ship will not affect the Russian-American space program
and the next docking of the Mir station and the U.S. shuttle will take
place in May, ITAR-TASS reported on 7 March. He said that the cargo
craft will be scrapped and burned in the Earth's atmosphere between 11
and 12 March. Parts of the craft may fall into the Pacific Ocean.
-- Natalia Gurushina

TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

ARMENIAN PRIME MINISTER RESIGNS. Armen Sarkisyan, currently recuperating
from windpipe surgery in London, told journalists on 7 March that he had
submitted his resignation the previous day as he needs further intensive
medical treatment, ITAR-TASS and RFE/RL reported. President Levon Ter-
Petrossyan, who has temporarily assumed the duties of premier, accepted
the resignation on 8 March having initially proposed that Sarkisyan
remain in his post until he has recovered. Sarkisyan had served as prime
minister since early November 1996. -- Liz Fuller

RUSSIAN STATE DUMA DELEGATION IN TBILISI. On the second day of a three-
day official visit to Tbilisi, a Russian State Duma delegation headed by
Duma deputy chairman Mikhail Gutseriev met with Georgian President
Eduard Shevardnadze on 7 March, ITAR-TASS reported. Talks focused on
bilateral relations, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and the possibility of
creating an "Assembly of the Peoples of the Caucasus," presumably
intended as an official counterpart to the existing Confederation of
Peoples of the Caucasus. Gutseriev subsequently told journalists that
there were "no insoluble problems" in bilateral relations between the
two countries. He also said that Russia would consider withdrawing the
CIS peacekeeping forces currently deployed in Abkhazia if Georgia
requests this. -- Liz Fuller

LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT IN KAZAKSTAN. Lithuanian President Algirdas
Brazauskas ended a three-day visit to Kazakstan on 8 March after signing
agreements with his Kazak counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev covering
elimination of double taxation, standardization and certification, and
legal issues, according to Russian sources and the Baltic News Service.
Talks focused on the Lithuanian port city of Klaipeda which Nazarbayev
called "extraordinarily important to Kazakstan." Kazakstan is rich in
oil but thus far has had a hard time shipping it to prospective
customers. Economic agreements signed between the two countries would
allow Kazakstan the right to ship oil, as well as ferrous and non-
ferrous metals, through the Lithuanian port. Lithuania would receive a
percentage of the materials for the use of the Klaipeda port. Lithuania
is also looking to import grain from Kazakstan and to export meat and
dairy products to the Central Asian country. -- Bruce Pannier

KAZAKSTAN'S DEBT TO TURKMENISTAN. The Kazakstani government, using a now
familiar tactic, agreed to pay off its debt for Turkmen gas supplies by
barter, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 March. Kazakstan presently owes $24.3
million for Turkmen power. The Ministry of Power and Coal will send the
equivalent of the debt in asbestos, phosphorus, lead, rolled copper, and
other unspecified items. Kazakstan had a similar deal with Kyrgyzstan,
exchanging Kazak coal for Kyrgyz hydro-power, and Kazakstan has also
allowed local officials in the northern part of the country to barter
for energy shipments with Russia, usually trading grain for electricity
and heating. -- Bruce Pannier

UZBEK ACTIVIST RELEASED BY RUSSIAN POLICE. Uzbek human rights activist
Albert Mousin was released by Russian authorities on 8 March, RFE/RL
reported. Mousin had been picked up in February during a random check of
documents by local militia and taken into custody when it was learned
Uzbekistan had a warrant out for his arrest (see OMRI Daily Digest 24
February 1997). The release comes despite Uzbekistan's insistence that
Mousin be extradited to stand trial on charges of "intentionally
spreading falsehoods undermining the state and society." -- Bruce Pannier

MORE AGREEMENT IN TAJIK TALKS. The sixth round of peace talks between
the Tajik government and United Tajik Opposition (UTO) ended on 8 March
with the signing of an agreement on integrating the armed forces of the
country, Russian and Western sources reported. The number two in the
UTO, Ali Akbar Turajonzoda, and Tajik Foreign Minister Talbak Nazarov
signed the agreement in Moscow. Under its terms, the UTO will bring all
its forces remaining in Afghanistan to Tajikistan within two months and
these, together with UTO forces already inside the country, will be
distributed to 10 zones where they will be disarmed. The second phase
will be the preparation of UTO forces to serve in legal government
formations, at the end of which the UTO will declare its forces
disbanded. The final phase, to be completed by 1 June, will be the
actual assignment of UTO cadres into the Tajik armed forces units and
militia. -- Bruce Pannier
[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Steve Kettle

*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!

What's in Store for the magazine Transition

We've learned much in the last two years about what sort of magazine
Transition can be and what role it should play in Central and Eastern
Europe and the former Soviet Union. Of greatest help in this process has
been the advice of readers. Among some of the desired changes are for
Transition to offer even more articles by writers in the region -- lively
opinion pieces as well as fact-filled analysis and expanded departments.

Accordingly, Transition will be substantially restructured and
relaunched as a monthly with the issue dated June 1997. The last
biweekly issue will be 6 April, followed by a brief hiatus. All existing
subscriptions will be honored and extended according to the new monthly
frequency, which is priced at $65 for 12 issues. As before, we offer a
substantial discount for readers in and of the countries we cover (apply
to the contacts listed below for more information).

For engaged intellectuals, policymakers, journalists, and scholars from
the region, the new Transition will provide a rare forum for the
exchange of ideas and criticism on political, economic, and cultural
issues and events.

For more information, contact the OMRI Marketing Department at tel.
(420-2) 6114 2114, fax (420-2) 6114 3181; email: transition-DD@omri.cz

*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!

------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Copyright (c) 1997 Open Media Research Institute, Inc.
                      All rights reserved. ISSN 1211-1570
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